When the Heritage Hounds first met together little did we know what would come out of our
efforts over the next four months. Myself, Neil Measures, Dave Evans and Shirley Matthews were
drawn together through our mutual love of Blackpool’s unique heritage. We are keen to report the
unrepresented voices in our town’s history and desire to improve the image of Blackpool in the
minds of residents and visitors alike.
When I was first told about the local Dragons Den style scheme for community groups in Blackpool I
was a little wary. The initiative aimed to target local groups, inviting them to put forward a proposal
to gain funds that would breed life into their project. It was like nothing I had ever done before.
At first our ideas were very divergent, but the main problem was that we had not decided upon our
short and long term aspirations. After many more meetings, and with the help of external consultant
Nick Lee, we were able to channel our common goal of raising awareness of heritage in Blackpool,
and agree on our project.
We decided on a mobile exhibit which can be transported to various formal and informal learning
venues, to educate and entertain the people of Blackpool about their rich heritage. We envisage the
project – which will be composed of artefacts, a workshop, presentation and activities – to be a form
of ‘outreach’. Capitalising on the skills and knowledge we learnt during our CLC training, we aim to
break down barriers and introduce learners to the personal histories in Blackpool’s past, and how to
find these out yourself by such methods as simply talking to others.
Nick helped us to identify our own skills and see how they functioned in a group dynamic. He also
helped to point out some practical issues in our plans. However, the real progress came from the
many hours we spent discussing our aims and smoothing out the flaws. Although I am used to
teamwork, it was a totally new experience for me to play an active role in organising an event.
Sharing my ideas was difficult at first, but it became easier once I realised we all had the same values
at heart. However, there were always many persistent fears: would it be worth it? Could we afford
the time? What if we didn’t get any funding?
Our labours came to an end with our PowerPoint presentation to Adult and Community Learning
Blackpool Council at Palatine Library, earlier this month. I had never before helped to produce
a presentation, but training I received through the volunteer centre suddenly became invaluable.
The council members were incredibly impressed with our presentation and commitment for the project
and how well it fits in with the current climate for change in the town.
The Heritage Hounds were rewarded with a grant from the council for £2,500 to kick start our mobile exhibit.
Although at first I was not sure it was ‘my kind of thing’, the reality is that it has already given me
lots of experiences and taught me many more skills in confidence, presenting and group work.
The fact that we are all so passionate about Blackpool has been the driving force for this project.
Knowing that we have set in motion a lasting legacy for promoting heritage in the town and
encouraging its residents to feel proud of Blackpool, has in itself been a massive achievement for me